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Full text of "The confessions of Nat Turner, the leader of the late insurrection in Southampton, Va. : as fully and voluntarily made to Thomas R. Gray, in the prison where he was confined, and acknowledged by him to be such, when read before the court of Southampton : with the certificate, under seal of the court convened at Jerusalem, Nov. 5, 1831, for his trial : also an authentic account of the whole insurrection, with lists of the whites who were murdered, and of the negroes brought before the court of Southampton, and there sentenced, &c"

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As fully and voluntarily made to 


In the prison where he was confined, and acknowledged by 
him to be such when read before the Court of South- 
ampton ; with the certificate, under seal of 
the Court convened at .Jerusalem, 
Nov. 5, 1381, for his trial. 


lCCOUNT of the whole insurrection, 





Lucas <$• Deaver, print. 
. 1831. 


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Be it remembered, That on this tenth day of November, Anno Domin 
eighteen hundred and thirty-one, Thomas R. Gray of the said Distric 
deposited in this office the title of a book, which is in the words as fo 
lowing : 

"The Confessions of Nat Turner, the leader of the late insurrectic 
in Southampton, Virginia, as fully and voluntarily made to Thomas 1 
Gray, in the prison where he was confined, and acknowledged by hi 
to be such when read before the Court of Southampton; with the ce 
tificate, under seal, of the Court convened at Jerusalem, November 
1831, for his trial. Also, an authentic account of the whole insurr© 
tion, with lists of the whites who were murdered, and of the negro 
brought before the Court of Southampton, and there sentence*!, &c. tl 
right whereof he claims as proprietor, in conlormity with an Act 
Congress, entitled "An act to amend the several acts respecting Co] 

EDMUND J. LEE, Clerk of the District. 
In testimony that the above is a true cop 
from the record of the District Court f 
(Seal.) the District of Columbia, I, Edmund 

Lee, the Clerk thereof, have hereuc 
set my hand and affixed the seal of n 
office, this 10th day of November, 183 

Edmund J. Lee, C. D. C. 


The late insurrection in Southampton has greatly excited the 
public mind, and led to a thousand idle, exaggerated and 
mischievous reports. Jt is the first instance in our history of 
an open rebellion of the slaves, and attended with such atro- 
cious circumstances of cruelty and destruction, as could not 
fail to leave a deep impression, not only upon the minds of 
the community where this fearful tragedy was wrought, but 
throughout every portion of our country, in which this popu- 
lation is to be found. Public curiosity has been on the stretch 
to understand the origin and progress of this dreadful con- 
spiracy, and the motives which influences its diabolical actors. 
The insurgent slaves had all been destroyed, or apprehended, 
tried and executed, (with the exception of the leader,) with- 
out revealing any thing at all satisfactory, as to the motives 
which governed them, or the means by which they expected 
to accomplish their object. Every thing connected with this 
|sad affair was wrapt in mystery, until Nat Turner, the leader 
|of this ferocious band, whose name has resounded through- 
lout our widely extended empire, was captured. This "great 
Bandit " was taken by a single individual, in a cave near the 
residence of his late owner, on Sunday, the thirtieth of Octo- 
ber, without attempting to make the slightest resistance, and 
on the following day safely lodged in the jail of the County. 
His captor was Benjamin Phipps, armed with a shot gun well 
charged. Nat's only weapon was a small light sword which 
he immediately surrendered, and begged that his life might 
i be spaTed. Since his confinement, by permission of the Jail- 
or, I have had ready access to him, and finding that he was 
willing to make a full and free confession of the origin, pro- 
gress aad consummation of the insurrectory movements of 
fthe slaves of which he was the contriver and head; I deter- 
mined for the gratification of public curiosity to commit his 

4 6-/ 

statements to writing, and publish them, with little or no vari- 
ation, from his own words. That this is a faithful record of 
his confessions, the annexed certificate of the County Court 
of Southampton, will attest. They certainly bear one stamp 
of truth and sincerity. He makes no attempt (as all the 
other insurgents who were examined did,) to exculpate him- 
self, but frankly acknowledges his full participation in all the 
guilt of the transaction. He was not only the contriver of 
the conspiracy, but gave the first blow towards its execution. 
It will thus appear, that whilst every thing upon the surface 
of society wore a calm and peaceful aspect; whilst not one note 
of preparation was heard to warn the devoted inhabitants of 
woe and death, a gloomy fanatic was revolving in the reces- 
ses of his own dark, bewildered, and overwrought mind, 
schemes of indiscriminate massacre to the whites. Schemes 
too fearfully executed as far as his fiendish band proceeded 
in their desolating march. No cry for mercy penetrated 
their flinty bosoms. No acts of remembered kindness 
made the least impression upon these remorseless murderers. 
Men, women and children, from hoary age to helpless infancy 
were involved in the same cruel fate. Never did a band of 
savages do their work of death more unsparingly. Appre- 
hension for their own personal safety seems to have been the 
only principle of restraint in the whole course of their bloody 
proceedings. And it is not the least remarkable feature in 
this horrid transaction, that a band actuated by such hellish 
purposes, should have resisted so feebly, when met by the 
whites in arms. Desperation alone, one would think, might 
have led to greater efforts. More than twenty of them at- 
tacked Dr. Blunt's house on Tuesday morning, a little be- 
fore day-break, defended by two men and three boys. They 
fled precipitately at the first fire; and their future plans of 
mischief, were entirely disconcerted and broken up. Es- 
caping thence, each individual sought his own safety either 
in concealment, or by returning home, with the hope that his 
participation might escape detection, and all were shot 
down in the course of a few days, or captured and brought to 
trial and punishment. Nat has survived all his followers, 
and the gallows will speedily close his career. His own ac- 
count of the conspiracy is submitted to the public, without 
comment. It. reads an awful, and it is hoped, a useful lesson, 
as to the operations of a mind like his, endeavoring to grap- 
ple with things beyond its reach. How r it first became be- 
wildered and confounded, and finally corrupted and led to 


the conception and perpetration of the most atrocious and 
heart-rending deeds. It is calculated also to demonstrate the 
policy of our laws in restraint of this class of our population, 
and to induce all those entrusted with their execution, as 
well as our citizens generally, to see that they are strictly and 
rigidly enforced. Each particular community should look to 
its own safety, whilst the general guardians of the laws, keep 
a watchful eye over all. If Nat's statements can be relied 
on, the insurrection in this county was entirely local, and his 
designs confided but to a few, and these in his immediate vi- 
cinity. It was not instigated by motives of revenge or sud- 
den anger, but the results of long deliberation, and a settled 
purpose of mind. The offspring of gloomy fanaticism, act- 
ing upon materials but too well prepared for such impressions. 
It will be long remembered in the annals of our country, and 
many a mother as she presses her infant darling to her bosom, 
will shudder at the recollection of Nat Turner, and his band 
of ferocious miscreants. 

Believing the following narrative, by removing doubts and 
conjectures from the public mind which otherwise must have 
remained, would give general satisfaction, it is respectfully 
submitted to the public by their ob't serv't, 

T. R. GRAY. 

Jerusalem, Southampton, Va. Nov. 5, 1831. 

We the undersigned, members of the Court convened at Jerusalem,on 
Saturday, the 5th day of Nov. 1831, for the trial of ^ at, alias Nat Turner, 
a negro slave, late the property of Putnam Moore, deceased, do hereby 
certify, that the confessions of Nat, to Thomas R. Gray, was read to him 
in our presence, and that Nat acknowledged the same to be full, free, 
and voluntary; and that furthermore, when called upon by the presid- 
ing Magistrate of the Court, to state if he had any thing to say, why 
sentence of death should not be passed upon him, replied he had 
nothing further than he had communicated to Mr. Gray. Given under 
| ©ur hands and seals at Jerusalem, this 5th day of November, 1831. 





! ORRIS A. BROWNE, [Seal] 

• State of Virginia, Southampton County, to wit: 

I, James Rochelle, Clerk of the County Court of Southampton in the 
iii State of Virginia, do hereby certify, that Jeremiah Cobb, Thomas Pret- 
| low, James IV. Parker, Carr Bowers, Samuel B. Hines, and Orris A. 
j Browne, esq/'a are acting Justices of the Peace, in and for the County 

aforesaid, and were members of the Court which convened at Jerusa- 
lem, on Saturday the 5th day of November, 1631, for the trial of Nat 
alias Nat Turner, a negro slave, late the property of Putnam Moore, 
deceased, who was tried and convicted, as an insurgent in the late in- 
surrection in the county of Southampton aforesaid, and that full faith 
and credit are due, and ought to be given to their acts as Justices of 
the peace aforesaid. 

In testimony whereof. I have hereunto set my 
hand and caused the seal of the Court 
[Seal.] aforesaid, to be affixed this 5th day of 

November, 1831. 

James Rochelle, G. S. C. C. 


Agreeable to his own appointment, on the evening he was 
committed to prison, with permission of the jailer, I visited 
NAT on Tuesday the 1st November, when, without being 
questioned at all, he commenced his narrative in the follow- 
ing words : — 

Sir, — You have asked me to give a history of the motives 
which induced me to undertake the late insurrection, as you 
call it — To do so I must go back to the days of my infancy, 
and even before I was born. 1 wai thirty-one years of age 
the 2d of October last, and born the property of Benj. Tur- 
ner, of this county. In my childhood a circumstance occur- 
red which made an indelible impression on my mind, and 
laid the ground work of that enthusiasm, which has termina- 
ted so fatally to many, both white and black, and for which I 
am about to atone at the gallows. It is here necessary to re- 
late this circumstance — trifling as it may seem, it w 7 as the 
commencement of that belief which has grown with time, 
and even now, sir, in this dungeon, helpless and forsaken 
as I am, I cannot divest myself of. Being at play with 
other children, when three or four years old, I was telling 
them something, which my mother overhearing, said it had 
happened before 1 was born — I stuck to my story, however, 
and related somethings which went, in her opinion, to confirm 
it — others being called on were greatly astonished, knowing 
that these things had happened, and caused them to say in 
my hearing, I surely would be a prophet, as the Lord had 
shewn me things that had happened before my birth. And 
my father and mother strengthened me in this my first impres- 
sion, saying in my presence, 1 was intended for some great 
purpose, which they had always thought from certain marks 
on my head and breast — [a parcel of excrescences which I be- 
lieve are not at all uncommon, particularly among negroes, as 
1 have seen several with the same. In this case he has either 
cut them off or they have nearly disappeared] — My grand 
mother, who was very religious, and to wliom I was much at- 


tached — iriy master, who belonged to the church, and other 
religious persons who visited the house, and whom I often 
saw at prayers, noticing the singularity of my manners, 3 sup- 
pose, and my uncommon intelligence for a child, remarked 1 
had too much sense to be raised, and if 1 was, I would never 
be of any service to any one as a slave — To a mind like mine, 
restless, inquisitive and observant of every thing that was 
passing, it is easy to suppose that religion was the subject to 
which it would be directed, and although this subject princi- 
pally occupied my thoughts — there was nothing that I saw 
or heard of to which my attention was not directed — The 
manner in which I learned to read and write, not only had 
great influence on my own mind, as T acquired it with the most 
perfect ease, so much so, that I have no recollection whatever of 
learning the alphabet — but to the astonishment of the family, 
one day, when a book was shewn me to keep me from crying, I 
began spelling the names of different objects — this was a 
source of wonder to all m the neighborhood, particularly the 
blacks — and this learning was constantly improved at all op- 
portunities — when I got large enough to go to work, while en> 
ployed, I was reflecting on many things that would present 
themselves to my imagination, and whenever an opportunity 
occurred of looking at a book, when the school children, 
were getting their lessons, I would find many things that the 
fertility of my own imagination had depicted to me before; all 
my time, not devoted to my master's service, was spent either in 
prayer, or in making experiments in casting different things 
in moulds made of earth, in attempting to make paper, gun- 
powder, and many other experiments, that although I could 
not perfect, yet convinced me of its practicability if I had the 
means.* I was not addicted to stealing in my youth, nor 
have ever been — Yet such was the confidence of the negroes 
iri the neighborhood, even at this early period of my life, in my 
superior judgment, that they would often carry me with them 
when they were going on any roguery, to plan for them. 
Growing up among them, with this confidence in my supe- 
rior judgment, and when this, in their opinions, was perfect- 
ed by Divine inspiration, from the circumstances already al- 
luded to in my infancy, and which belief was ever afterwards 
zealously inculcated by the austerity of my life and manners, 
which became the subject of remark by white and black. — 
Having soon discovered to be great, I must appear so, and 

therefore studiously avoided mixing in society, and wrapped 

. p , — 

* When questioned as to the manner of manufacturing those dif- 
ferent articles,. he was found well informed on the subject*. 

Myself in mystery, devoting my time to fasting and prayer— 
By this time, having arrived to man's estate, and hearing the 
scriptures commented on at meetings, I was struck with that 
particular passage whicrrsays : "Seek ye the kingdom of Hea- 
ven and all things shall be added unto you." J reflected 
much on this passage, and prayed daily for light on this sub- 
ject — As I was praying one day at my plough, the spirit spoke 
to me, saying "Seek ye the king-dom of Heaven and all things 
shall be added unto you. Question — what do you mean by the 
Spirit. Ans. The Spirit that spoke to the prophets in former 
days—and 1 was greatly astonished, and for two years pray- 
ed continually, whenever my duty would permit — and then 
again I had the same revelation, which fully confirmed me in 
the impression that I was ordained for some great purpose 
in the hands of the Almighty. Several years rolled round, in 
which many events occurred to strengthen me in this my be- 
lief. At this time I reverted in my mind to the remarks made 
of me in my childhood, and the things that had been shewn 
me — and as it had been said of me in my childhood by those 
by whom I had been taught to pray, both white and black, 
and in whom I had the greatest confidence, that I had too' 
much sense to be raised, and if I was*, I would never be of 
any use to any one as a slave. Now finding I had arrived to 
man's estate, and was a slave, and these revelations being, 
made known to me, I began to direct my attention to this 
great object, to fulfil the purpose for which, by this time, 1 
felt assured 1 was intended. Knowing the influence I had ob- 
tained over the minds of my fellow servants, (not by the 
means of conjuring and such like tricks- — for to them I always 
spoke of such thingswith contempt) but by the communion of 
the Spirit whose revelations 1 often communicated to them, 
and they believed and said my wisdom came from God. I 
now began to prepare them for my purpose, by telling them 
something was about to happen that would terminate in fulfill- 
ing the great promise that had been made to me — About this 
time 1 was placed under an overseer, from whom I ranaway — 
and after remaining in the woods thirty days, I returned, to 
the astonishment of the negroes on the plantation, who 
thought I had made my escape to some other part of the 
country, as my father had done before. But the reason of 
my return was, that the Spirit appeared to me and said I had 
my wishes directed to the things of this world, and not to the 
kingdom of Heaven, and that 1 should return to the service of 
my earthly master— "For he- who knoweth his Master's will, 


and doeth it not, shall be beaten with many stripes, and thus 
have I chastened you." And the negroes found fault, and 
murmurred against me, saying that if they had my sense they 
would not serve any master in the world. And about this 
time I had a vision— -and I saw white spirits and black spirits 
engaged in battle, and the sun was darkened — the thunder 
rolled in the Heavens, and blood flowed in streams — and I 
heard a voice saying, "Such is your luck, such you are called to 
see, and let it come rough or smooth, you must surely bare 
it." I now withdrew myself as much as my situation would 
permit,, from the intercourse of my fellow servants, for the 
avowed purpose of serving the Spirit more fully — and it ap- 
peared to me, and reminded me of the things it had already 
shown me, and that it would then reveal to me the knowledge 
of the elements, the revolution of the planets, the operation 
©f tides, and changes of the seasons. After this revelation in 
the year 1825, and the knowledge of the elements being made 
known to me, I sought more than ever to obtain true holiness 
before the great day of judgment should appear, and then I 
began to receive the true knowledge of faith. And from the 
first steps of righteousness until the last, was I made perfect; 
and the Holy Ghost was with me, and said, "Behold me as I 
stand in the Heavens" — and 1 looked and saw the forms of men 
ra different attitudes — and there were lights in the sky to 
which the ^children of darkness gave other names than what 
they really were — for they were the lights of the Saviour's 
hands, stretched forth from east to w^est, e\en as^, they were 
extended on the cross on Calvary for the redemption of sin- 
ners. And I wondered greatly at these miracles, and prayed 
to be informed of a certainly of the meaning thereof — and 
shortly afterwards, while laboring in the field, I discovered 
drops of blood on the corn as though it were dew from hea- 
ven — and I communicated it to many, both white and black, 
in the neighborhood — and I then found on the leaves in the 
woods hieroglyphic characters, and numbers, with the forms 
®f men in different attitudes, portrayed in blood, and repre- 
senting the figures I had seen before in the heavens. And 
now the Holy Ghost had revealed itself to me, and made 
plain the miracles it had shown me — For as the blood of 
Christ had been shed on this earth, and had ascended to hea- 
ven for the salvation of sinners, and was now returning to 
earth again in the form of dew — and as the leaves on the 
trees bore the impression of the figures I had seen in the 
heavens, it was plain to me that the Saviour was about to lay 
down the yoke he had borne for the sins of men, and the 


great day of judgment was at hand. About this time I told 
these things to a white man, (Etheldred T. Brantley) on whom 
it had a wondeiful effect — and he ceased from his wicked- 
ness, and was attacked immediately with a cutaneous eruption, 
and blood ozed from the pores of his skin, and after praying 
and fasting nine days, he was healed, and the Spirit appear- 
ed to me again, and said, as the Saviour had been baptised so 
should we be also — and when the white people would not 
let us be baptised by the church, we went down into the wa- 
ter together, in th-e sight of many who reviled us, and were 
baptised by the Spirit — After this I rejoiced greatly, and gave 
thanks to God. And on the 12th of May, 1828, I heard a 
loud noise in the heavens, and the Spirit instantly appeared 
to me and said the Serpent was loosened, and Christ had laid 
down the yoke he had borne for the sins of men, and that I 
should take it on and fight against the Serpent, for fehe time 
was fast approaching when the first should be last and the last 
should be first. Quest. Do you not find yourself mistaken 
now? Jlns. Was not Christ crucified. And by signs in the 
heavens that it would make known to me when I should 
commence the great work — and until the first sign appeared, 
I should conceal it from the knowledge of men — And on the 
appearance of the sign, (the eclipse of the sun last February) 
I should arise and prepare myself, and slay my enemies with 
their own weapons. And immediately on the sign appearing 
in the heavens, the seal was removed from my lips, and I com- 
municated the great work laid out for me to do, to four in 
whom ! had the greatest confidence, (Henry, Hark, Nelson, 
and Sam) — ft was intended by us to have begun the work of 
death on the 4th July last — Many were the plans formed and 
rejected by us, and it affected my mind to such a degree, that 
I fell sick, and the time passed without our coming to any 
determination how to commence — Still forming new schemes 
and rejecting them, when the sign appeared again, which de- 
termined me not to wait longer. 

Since the commencement of 1830, I had h^en living with 
Mr. Joseph Travis, who was to me a kind master, and placed 
the greatest confidence in me; in fact, I had no cause to com- 
plain of his treatment to me. On Saturday evening, the 
SOth of August, it was agreed between Henry, Hark and my- 
self, to prepare a dinner the next day for the men we ex- 
pected, and then to concert a plan, as we had not yet deter- 
mined on any. Hark, on the following morning, brought a 
pig, and Henry brandy, and being joined by Sam, Nelson, 


Will and Jack, they prepared in the woods a 1 dinner, wher^ 
about three o'clock, 1 joined them. 

Q. Why were you so backward in joining them. 
A. The same reason that had caused me not to mix with 
them for years before. 

I saluted them on coming up, and asked Will how came 
he there, he answered, his life was worth no more than 
others, and his liberty as dear to him. I asked him if he 
thought to obtain it? He said he would, or loose his life. 
This was enough to put him in full confidence. Jack, 
I knew, was only a tool in the hands of Hark, it was 
quickly agreed we should commence at home (Mr. J. Travis') 
on that night, and until we had armed and equipped our- 
selves, and gathered sufficient force, neither age nor sex was 
to be spared, (which was invariably adhered to.) We re- 
mained at the feast, until about two hours in the night, when 
we went to the house and found Austin; they all went to the 
cider press and drank, except myself. On returning to the 
house, Hark went to the door with an axe, for the purpose 
of breaking it open, as we knew we were strong enough to 
murder the family, if they were awaked by the noise; but 
reflecting that it might create an alarm in the neighborhood^ 
we determined to enter the house secretly, and murder them 
whilst sleeping. Hark got a ladder and set it against the 
chimney, on which I ascended, and hoisting a window, enter- 
ed and came down stairs, unbarred the door, and removed 
the guns from their places. It was then observed that I must 
spill the first blood. On which, armed with a hatchet, and 
accompanied by Will, I entered my master's chamber, it be- 
ing dark, I could not give a death blow, the hatchet glanced 
from his head, he sprang from the bed and called his wife, 
it was his last word, Will laid him dead, with a blow of his 
axe, and Mrs. Travis shared the same fate, as she lay in bed. 
The murder of this family, five in number, was the work of a 
moment, not one of them awoke; there was a little infant 
sleeping in a qradle, that was forgotten, until we had left the 
house and gone some distance, when Henry and Will return- 
ed and killed it; we got here, four guns that would shoot r 
and several old muskets, with a pound or two of powder. 
We remained some time at the barn, where we paraded; I 
formed them in a line as soldiers, and after carrying them 
through all the manoeuvres I was master of, marched them 
off to Mr. Salathul Francis',, about six hundred yards distant. 
Sam and Will went to the door and knocked. Mr. Francis- 
asked who« was there,. Sam replied it was him, and he had a 


j : 

letter for him, on which he got up and came to the door;" 
thev immediately seized him, and dragging him out a little 
from the door, he was dispatched by repeated blows on the 
head; there was no other white person in the family. We 
started from there for Mrs. Reese's, maintaining the most 
perfect silence on our march, where finding the door unlock- 
ed, we entered, and murdered Mrs. Reese in her bed, while 
sleeping: her son awoke, but it was only to sleep the sleep of 
death, he h-ad only time to say Who is that, and he was no 
more. From Mrs. Reese's we went to Mrs. Turner's, a mile 
distant, which we reached about sunrise, on Monday morn~ 
ing. Henry, Austin, and Sam, went to the still, where, find- 
ing Mr. Peebles, Austin shot hi$Kf| and the rest of us went to 
the house; as we approached, the family discovered us, and 
shut the door. Vain hope ! Will, with one stroke of his axe, 
opened it, and we entered and found Mrs. Turner and Mrs. 
Newsome in the middle of a room, almost frightened to 
death. Will immediately killed Mrs. Turner, with one blow 
of his axe. I took Mrs. Newsom'e by the hand, and with 
the sword I had when I was apprehended, I struck her 
several blows over the head, but not being able to kill her, 
as the sword was dull. Will turning around and discovering 
it, despatched her also. A general destruction of property 
and search for money and ammunition, always succeeded 
the murders. By this time n>y company amounted to fifteen, 
and nine men mounted, who started for Mrs. Whitehead's, 
(the other six were to go through a by way to Mr. Bryant's, 
and rejoin us at Mrs. Whitehead's,) as we approached the 
house we discovered Mr. Richard Whitehead standing in the 
cotton patch, near the lane fence ; we called him over into 
the lane, and Will, the executioner, was near at hand, with 
his fatal axe, to send him to an* untimely grave. As we 
pushed on to the house, I discovered someone run round the 
garden, and thinking it was some of the white family, I pur- 
sued them, but finding it was a servant girl belonging to the 
house, I returned to commence the work of death, but they 
whom I left, had not been idle; all the family were already 
murdered, but Mrs. Whitehead and her daughter Margaret. 
As I came round to the door I saw Will pulling?jyir&. White- 
head out of the house, and at the step he nearly severed her 
head from her b®dy, with his broad axe. Miss Margaret, 
when I' discovered her, had concealed herself in the corner, 
formed by the projection of the cellar eap from the house; 
on my approach; she fledybut was soon overtaken, and after 



repeated blows with a sword, I killed her by a blow on the 
head, with a fence rail. By this time, the six who had gone 
by Mr. Bryant's, rejoined us, and informed me they had done 
the work of death assigned them. We again divided, part 
going to Mr. Richard Porter's, and from thence to Nathaniel 
Francis', the others to Mr. Howell Harris', and Mr. T. 
Doyles. On my reaching Mr. Porter's, he had escaped with 
his family. I understood there, that the alarm had already 
spread, and I immediately returned to bring up those sent to 
Mr. Doyles, and Mr. Howell Harris 1 ; the party I left going 
on to Mr. Francis', having told them I would join them in 
that neighborhood. I met these sent to Mr. Doyles' and Mr. 
Harris' returning, having met Mr. Doyle on the road and 
killed him; and learning from some who joined them, that 
Mr. Harris was from home, I immediately pursued the course 
taken by the party gone on before; but knowing they would 
complete the work of death and pillage, at Mr. Francis' 
before I could get there, I went to Mr. Peter Edwards', ex- 
pecting to find them there, but they had been here also. I 
then went to Mr. John T. Barrow's, they had been here and 
murdered him. I pursued on their track to Capt. Newit 
Harris', where I found the greater part mounted, and ready 
to start; the men now amounting to about forty, shouted and 
hurraed as 1 rode up, some were in the yard, loading their 
guns, others drinking* They said Captain Harris and his 
family had escaped, the property in the house they destroy- 
ed, robbing him of money and other valuables. I ordered 
them to mount and march instantly, this was about nine or 
ten o'clock, Monday morning. I proceeded to Mr. Levi 
Waller's, two or three miles distant. I took my station in 
the rear, and as it 'twas my object to carry terror and devas- 
tation wherever we went, I placed fifteen or twenty of the 
best armed and most to be relied on, in front, who generally 
approached the houses as fast as their horses could run ; this 
was for two purposes, to prevent their escape and strike ter- 
ror to the inhabitants — on this account 1 never got to the 
houses, after leaving Mrs. Whitehead's, until the murders were 
committed, except in one case. I sometimes got in sight in 
time to see the work of death completed, viewed the mang- 
led bodies as they lay, in silent satisfaction, and immediately 
started in quest of other victims — Having murdered Mrs. 
Waller and ten children, we started for Mr. William Wil- 
iiams'-r-having killed him and two little boys that were there; 
while engaged in this, Mrs. Williams fled arid got some dis- 



tance from the house, but she was pursued, overtaken, and 
compelled to get up behind one of the company, who brought 
.her back, and after showing her the mangled body of her life- 
less husband, she was toid to get down and lay by his side, 
where she was shot dead. I then started for Mr. Jacob Wil- 
liams, where the family were murdered — Here we found a 
young man named Drury, who had come on business with 
Mr. YVilliams — he was pursued, overtaken and shot. Mrs. 
Vaughan was the next place we visited — and after murder- 
ing the family here, I determined on starting for Jerusalem — 
Our number amounted now to fifty or sixty, all mounted and 
armed with guns, axes, swords and clubs — On reaching Mr. 
James W. Parkers 7 gate, immediately on the road leading to 
Jerusalem, and about three miles distant, it was proposed to 
me to call there, but I objected, as I knew he was gone to 
Jerusalem, and my object was to reach there as soon as pos- 
sible; but some of the men having relations at Mr. Parker's it 
was agreed that they might call and get his people. I remain- 
ed at the gate on the road, with seven or eight; the others going 
across the field to the house, about half a mile off. After 
waiting some. time for them, I became impatient, and started 
to the house for them, and on our return we were met by a 
party of white men, who had pursued our blood-stained track, 
and who had fired on those at the gate, and dispersed them, 
which I new nothing of, not having been at that time rejoined 
by any of them — Immediately on discovering the whites, I 
ordered my men to halt an4 form, as they appeared to be 
alarmed — The white men, eighteen in number, approached 
us in about one hundred yards, when one of them fired, 
(this was against the positive orders of Captain Alex- 
ander P. Peete, who commanded, and who had directed 
the men to reserve their fire until within thirty paces) 
And I discovered about half of tiiem retreating, I then ordered 
my men to fire and rush on them; the few remaining stood 
their ground- until we approached within fifty yards, when 
they fired and retreated. We pursued and overtook some of 
them who we thought we left dead; (they were not killed) af- 
ter pursuing them about two hundred yards, and rising a little 
hill, I discovered they were met by another party*, and had 
haulted, and were re-loading their guns, (this was a small 
party from Jerusalem who knew the negroes were in the field, 
and had just tied their horses to await their return to the 
road, knowing that Mt. Parker aad family were in Jerusalem, 
but knew nothing of the party that had gone in with Captain 


Peete; on hearing the firing they immediately rushed to the 
spot and arrived just in time to arrest the progress of these 
barbarous villians, and save the lives of their friends and fel- 
low citizens.) Thinking that those who retreated first, and the 
party who fired on us at fifty or sixty yards distant, had all 
only fallen back to meet others with amunition. As i saw 
them re-loading their guns, and more coming up than I saw at 
first, and several of my bravest men being wounded, the oth- 
ers became panick struck and squandered over the field; the 
white men pursued and fired on us several times. Hark had 
his horse shot under him, and I caught another for him as it 
was running by me; fivq or six of my men were wounded, but 
none left on the field; finding myself defeated here I instant- 
ly determined to go through a private way, and cross the 
Kottoway river at the Cypress Bridge, three miles below Je- 
rusalem, and attack that place in the rear, as I expected they 
would look for me on the other road, and I had a great de- 
sire to get there to procure arms and amunition. After going 
a short distance in this private way, accompanied by about 
twenty men, 1 overtook two or three who told me the others 
were dispersed in every direction. After tyring in vain to col- 
lect a sufficient force to proceed to Jerusalem, I determined 
to return, as I was sure they would make back to their old 
neighborhood, where they would rejoin me, make new recruits, 
and come down again. On my way back, I called at Mrs. 
Thomas's, Mrs. Spencer's, and several other places, the white 
families having fled, we found ho more victims to gratify our 
thirst for blood, we stopped at Majr. Ridley's quarter for the 
night, and being joined by four of his men, with the recruits 
made since my defeat, we mustered now about forty strong. 
After placing out sentinels, 1 laid down to sleep, but was quick* 
If roused by a great racket; starting up, I found some mount- 
ed, and .others in great confusion; one of the sentinels having 
given the alarm that we were about to be attacked, I ordered 
ao me to ride round and reconnoitre, and on their return the 
others being more alarmed, not knowing»who they were, fled 
in different ways, so that 1 was reduced to about twenty again; 
with this I determined to attempt to recruit, and proceed on 
to rally in the neighborhood, I had left. Br. Blunt's was the 
nearest house, which we reached just before day; on riding up 
the yard, Hark fired a gun. We expected Dr. Blunt and his fa- 
mily were at Maj. Ridley's, as 1 knew there was a company of 
men there; the gun was fired to ascertain if any of the family 
were at home; we were immediately fired-upon and retreated r 


leaving several of my men. I do not know what became of 
them, as I never saw them afterwards. Pursuing our course 
back and coming in sight of Captain Harris 7 , where we had 
been the day before, we discovered a party of white men at 
the house, on which all deserted me but two, (Jacob and 
Nat,) we concealed ourselves in the woods until near night, 
when I sent them in search of Henry, Sam, Nelson, and Hark, 
and directed them to rally all they could, at the place we had 
had our dinner the Sunday before, where they would find me, 
and I accordingly returned there as soon as it was dark and 
remained until Wednesday evening, when discovering white 
men riding around the place as though they were looking for 
some one, and none of my men joining me, I concluded Ja- 
cob and Nat had been taken, and compelled to betray me. 
On this I gave up all hope for the present; and on Thursday 
night after having supplied myself with provisions from Mr. 
Travis's, I scratched a hole under a pile of fence rails in a 
field, where I concealed myself for six weeks, never leaving 
my hiding place but for a few minutes in the dead of night 
to get water which was very near; thinking by this time 1 
could venture ©ut, I began to go about in the night and 
eaves drop the houses in the neighborhood; pursuing this 
course for about a fortnight and gathering little or no intelli- 
gence, afraid of speaking to any human being, and returning 
every morning to my cave before the dawn of day. I know 
not how long 1 might have led this life, if accident had not 
betrayed me, a d6g in the neighborhood passing by my hid- 
ing place one night while I was out, was attracted by some 
meat I had in my cave, and crawled in and stole it, and was 
coming out just as I returned. A few nights after, two.negroes 
having started to go hunting with the same dog, and passed 
that way, the dog came again to the place, and having just 
gone out to walk about, discovered rne and barked, on which 
thinking myself discovered, 1 spoke to them to beg conceal- 
ment. On making myself known they fled from me. Know- 
ing then they would betray me, I immediately left my hiding 
place, and was pursued almost incessantly until I was taken 
a fortnight afterwards by Mr. Benjamin Phipps, in a little hole 
I had dug out with my sword, for the purpose of conceal- 
ment, under the top of a fallen tree. On Mr. Phipps' discover- 
ing the place of my concealment, he cocked his gun and 
aimed at me. I requested him not to shoot and I would give 
up, upon which he demanded my sword. I delivered it to 
him, and he brought me to prison. During the time I was 


pursued, I had many hair breadth escapes, which your time 
will not permit you to relate. I am here loaded with chains, 
and willing to suffer the fate that awaits me. 

1 here proceeded to make some inquiries of him, after assur- 
ing him of the certain death that awaited him, and that conceal- 
ment would only bring destruction on the innocent as well as 
guilty, of his own color, if he knew of any extensive or cen- 
certed plan. His answer was, 1 do not. When I questioned 
him as to the insurrection in North Carolina happening about 
the same time, he denied any knowledge of it; and when 1 
looked him in the face as though I would search his inmost 
thoughts, he replied, " I see sir, you doubt my word: but can 
you not think the same ideas, and strange appearances about 
this time in the heaven's might prompt others, as well as my- 
self, to this undertaking." I now had much conversation 
with and asked him many questions, having forborne to do so 
previously, except in the cases noted in parenthesis; but dur- 
ing his statement, I had, unnoticed by him, taken notes as to 
some particular circumstances, and having the advantage of 
his statement before me in writing, on the evening of the 
third day that I had been with him, I began a cross examina- 
tion, and found his statement corroborated by every circum- 
stance coming within my own knowledge or the confessions 
of others whom had been either killed or executed, and whom 
he had not seen nor had any kfiowledge since 22d of August 
last, he expressed himself fully satisfied as to the impracti- 
cability of his attempt. It has been said he was ignorant and 
cowardly, and that his object was to murder and rob for the 
purpose of obtaining money to make his escape. It is noto- 
rious, that he was never known to have a dollar in his life; 
to swear an oath, or drink a drop of spirits. As to his igno- 
rance, he certainly never had the advantages of education, 
but he can read and write, (it was taught him by his pa- 
rents,) and for. natural intelligence and quickness of appre- 
hension, is surpassed by few men I have ever seen. As to 
his being a coward, his reason as given for not resisting Mr. 
Phipps, shews the decision of his character. When he saw 
Mr. Phipps present his gun, he said he knew it was impossi- 
ble for him to escape as the woods were full of men; he 
therefore thought it was better to surrender, and trust to for- 
tune for his escape. He is a complete fanatic, or plays his 
part most admirably. On other subjects he possesses an un- . 
common share of intelligence, with a mind capable of attain- 
ing any thing; but warped and perverted by the influence of 


early impressions. He is below the ordinary stature, though 
strong and active, having the true negro face, every feature of 
which is strongly marked. I shall not attempt to describe the 
effect of his narrative, as told and commented on by himself, 
in the condemned hole of the prison. The calm, deliberate 
composure with which he spoke of his late deeds and inten- 
tions, the expression of his fiend-iike face when excited by 
enthusiasm, still bearing the stains of the blood of helpless 
innocence about him; clothed with rags and covered with 
chains; yet daring to raise his manacled hands to heaven, with 
a spirit soaring above the attributes of man; I looked on 
him and my blood curdled in my veins. 

J will not shock the feelings of humanity, nor wound 
afresh the bosoms of the disconsolate sufferers in this unpar- 
alleled and inhuman massacre, by detailing the deeds of their 
fiend-like barbarity. There were two or three who were in 
the power of these wretches, had they known it, and who es- 
caped in the most providential manner. There were two 
whom they thought they left dead on the field at Mr Parker's, 
but who were only stunnecf by the blows of their guns, as 
they did not take time to re-load when they charged on them. 
The escape of a little girl who went to school at Mr. Wal- 
ler's, and where the children were collecting for that purpose, 
excited general sympathy. As their teacher had not arrived, 
they were at play in the yard, and seeing the negroes ap- 
proach, she ran up on a dirt chimney, (such as are common 
to log houses,) and remained there unnoticed during the mas- 
sacre of the eleven that were killed at this- place. She re- 
mained on her hiding place till just before the arrival of a 
party, who were in pursuit of the murderers, when she came 
down and fled to a swamp, where, a mere child as she was, 
with the horrors of the late scene before her, she lay con- 
cealed until the next day, when seeing a party go up to the 
house, she came up, and on being asked how she escaped, re- 
plied with the utmost simplicity, « The Lord helped her." 
She was taken up behind a gentleman of the party, and re- 
turned to the arms of her weeping mother Miss Whitehead 
concealed herself between the bed and the mat that support- 
ed it, while they murdered her sister in the same room, with- 
out discovering her. 'She was afterwards carried off, and 
concealed for protection by a slave of the family, who gave 
evidence against several of them on their trial. Mrs. Nathan- 
iel Francis, while concealed in a closet heard their blows, 
and the shrieks of the victims of these ruthless savages; they 


then entered the closet where she was concealed, and went 
out without discovering her. While in this hiding place, she 
heard two of her women in a quarrel about the division of 
her clothes. Mr. John T. Baron, discovering them approach- 
ing his house, told his wife to make her escape, and scorning 
to fly, fell fighting on his own threshold. After firing his rifle, 
he discharged his gun at them, and then broke it over the 
villain who first approached him, but he was overpowered, 
and slain. His bravery, however, saved from the hands of 
these monsters, his lovely and amiable wife, who will long 
lament a husband so deserving of her love. As directed by 
him, she attempted to escape through the garden, when she 
was caught and held by one of her servant girls, but another 
coming to her rescue, she fled to the woods, and concealed 
herself. Few indeed, were those who escaped their work of 
death. But fortunate for society, the hand of retributive jus- 
tice has overtaken them ; and not one that was known to be 
concerned has escaped. 


The Commonwealth, } 

vs. > Charged with making insurrection, 

Nat Turner. y and plotting to take away the lives of 

divers free white persons, &c. on the 22d of August, 1881. 

The court composed of , having met for the trial of 

Nat Turner, the prisoner was brought in and arraigned, and 
upon his arraignment pleaded Not guilty; saying to his coun- 
sel, that he did not feel so. 

On the part of the Commonwealth, Levi Waller was intro- 
duced, who being sworn, deposed as follows: (agreeably to 
NaPs own Confession.) Col. Trezvant* was then introduced, 
who being sworn, narrated Nat's 'Confession to him, as fol- 
lows : (his Confession as given to Mr. Gray.) The prisoner 
introduced no evidence, and the case was submitted without 
argument to the court, who having found him guilty, Jeremi- 
ah Cobb, Esq. Chairman, pronounced the sentence of the 
court, in the following words: "Nat Turner! Stand up. 
Have you any thing to say why sentence of death should not 
be pronounced against you ? 

Jlns. I have not. I have made a full confession to Mr. 
Gray, and I have nothing more to say. 

*The committing Magistrate- 


Attend then to the sentence of the Court. You have been ar- 
raigned and tried before this court, and convicted of one of the 
highest crimes in our criminal code. You have been convicted 
of plotting in cold blood, the indiscriminate destruction of 
men, of helpless women, and of infant children. The evi- 
dence before us leaves not a shadow of doubt, but that your 
ihands were often imbrued in the blood of the innocent ; and 
your own confession tells us ihat they were stained with the 
blood of a master; in your own language, "too indulgent." 
Could I stop here, your crime would be sufficiently aggra- 
vated. But the original contriver of a plan, deep and deadly, 
one that never can be effected, you managed so far to put it 
into execution, as to deprive irs of many of our most valuable 
citizens; and this was done when l,hey were asleep, and de- 
fenceless; under circumstances shocking to humanity. And 
while upon this part of the subject, I cannot but call your at- 
tention to the poor misguided wretches who have gone be- 
fore you. They are not few in number — they were your bo- 
som associates; and the blood of all cries aloud, and calls 
upon you, as the author of their misfortune. Yes! You 
■forced them unprepared, from Time to Eternity. Borne 
down by this load of guilt, your* only justification is, that 
jyou were led away by fanaticism. If this be true, from my 
•soul I pity you; and while you have my sympathies, I am, ne- 
vertheless called upon to pass the sentence of the court. The 
;time between this and your execution, will necessarily be 
very short; and your only hope must be in another world. 
The judgment of the court is, that you be taken hence to the 
j jail from whence you came, thence to the place of execution, 
and on Friday next, between the hours of 10 A. M. and 2 P. 
!M. be hung by the neck until you are dead! dead! dead 
; and may the Lord have mercy upon your soul. 



A list of persons murdered in the Insurrection, on the 21st 
and ZM of August, 1831. 

Joseph Travers and wife and three children, Mrs. Eliza- 
beth Turner, Hartwell Prebles, Sarah Newsome, Mrs. P. Reese 
and son William, Trajan Doyle, Henry Bryant and wife and 
child, and wife's mother, Mrs. Catharine Whitehead, son 
Richard and four daughters and grand-child, Salathiel Fran- 
cis, Nathaniel Francis' overseer and two children, John T. 
Barrow, George Vaughan, Mrs. Levi Waller and ten children, 
William Williams, wife and two boys, Mrs. Caswell Worrell 
and child, Mrs. Rebecca Vaughan, Ann Eliza Vaughan, and 
son Arthur, Mrs. John K. Williams and child, Mrs. Jacob 
Williams and three children, and Edwin Drury — amounting 
to fifty-five. 

A List of Negroes brought before the Court of Southamp- 
ton, with their owners* names, and sentence. 

Daniel, - - - - Richard Porter, Convicted. 

Moses, - - - J T. Barrow, Do. 

Tom, .... - Ca-ty Whitehead, Discharged. 

Jack and Andrew, Caty Whitehead, Con. and transported. 

Jacob, _-- - Geo. H. Charlton, Disch'd without trial. 

Isaac, - - - : i - Ditto, Convi. and transported. 

Jack, ----- Everett Bryant, Discharged. 

Nathan, - - - - Benj. Blunt's estate, Convicted. 

Nathan, Tom, and Da- [ted. 

yy, (boys,) - - Nathaniel Francis, Convicted and transpor- 

Davy, Elizabeth Turner, Convict e d. 

Curtis, - - - - Thomas Ridley, Do . 

Stephen, - - - - Do. Do. 

Hardy and Isham, Benjamin Edwards, Convicted and transp'd. 

Sam, - - - - Nathaniel Francis, Convicted. 

Hark, - - - - - Joseph Travis' estate. Do. 

Moses, (a boy,) Do. Do. and transported. 

Davy, - - - - Levi Waller, Convicted. 

Nelson, - - - - Jacob Williams, Do. 

Nat, ----- Ed m'd Turner's estate. Do. 

Jack, ----- Wm. Reese's estate, Do. 

Dred, - - - - Nathaniel Francis, Do. 

Arnold, Artist, (free,) Discharged. 

Sam, ----- J, W. Parker, Acquitted. 

Ferry and Archer, J.W.Parker, Disch'd without trial. 

Jim, ----- William Vaughan, Acquitted. 

Bob, ----- Temperance Parker, Do. 

Davy, - - - - Joseph Parker, 

Daniel, - - - - Solomon D. Parker, Disch'd without trial. 

Thomas Haithcock, (free,) - Sent on for further trial. 


Joe, - - - - - John C. Turner, 

Lucy, .... - John T. Barrow, 

Matt, Thomas Ridley, 

Jim, ----- Richard Porter, 

Exum Artes, (free,) - - - - 

Joe, ----- Richard P. Briggs. 
Bury Newsome, (free,) - 

Stephen, * - - - James Bell, 

Jim and Isaac, - - Samuel Champion, 

Preston, - - - - Hannah Williamson, 

Frank, - - - - Solomon D. Parker, 

~^ack and Shadrach, Nathaniel Simmons, 

j ielson, - - - - «Benj. Bmnt's estate, 

g a m, - - - - - Peter Edwards, 

^'•mer, - - - - Arthur*G. Reese, 

Isha ™. Turner, (free,) 

Nat Turatvf f j ■ " - Putnam Moore, dee'd, 



Sent on or further trial. 
Disch'd without trial. 
Sent on for further trial. 

Convicted and trans'd. 

Convi'd and transp'd. 


Sent on for further trial